not many long-standing restaurants in Manchester
that we haven't yet visited but, for some
unknown reason, Topkapi Palace was one. We've
had loads of good reviews of the Deansgate
restaurant over the years so it was with great
expectations that we entered the restaurant
door. Well, we say restaurant door, it's actually
the takeaway door you have to enter and then
through the sliding door into the restaurant
itself, in the process squeezing past the
queue of kebab hungry office workers, drunks,
students and [enter your own stereotype here].
been on Deansgate since 1979 and owned by
Manchester's first Turkish chef, Seref Dursun,
Topkapi Palace was only recently redesigned
to throw more emphasis on its busy takeaway
offering. It is a little off putting having
to walk through the sliding door in the kebab
shop, however once inside, the restaurant
is warm and inviting unless you happen to
be sat in the corner next to the takeaway
entrance. It is a world away from its namesake,
the grand Topkpai Palace in Istanbul, which
is probably the best remaining example of
the Ottoman empire, and it resembles little
more than a cafe, with a mish mash of paintings
and photos on the wall of the homeland.
The staff are incredibly friendly, presumably of Turkish origin but with the broadist Mancunian accents you will probably hear. They were also efficient and very informal, which seemed to match the cafe type atmosphere. Sadly, the conversation seemed to be a bit too informal later though when another waitress arrived somewhat unhappy and they all started to swear loudly and bitch, presumably about their boss, (who wasn't present), from one side of the restaurant to another with no care for who was in earshot (the entire restaurant). They even continued their conversation whilst serving customers as if they didn't exist, much to the annoyance of one couple on a table near us who had obviously chosen the wrong venue for a romantic lunch.
The menu is impressive with a great selection of typical Turkish dishes that you won't find elsewhere in Manchester. Most main course dishes are around the £11 mark, and the Lunch Menu proves incredible value at £7.50 for 2 courses with a soft drink, as does the Early Evening Menu at £9.95, which is served from 3:30pm until 7:30pm, ideal for those visiting the Opera House, just around the corner.
Sadly they were out of Cerkez Tavugu (Chicken & Walnuts) so we were offered Hummus with pita bread instead (£3.75). As with the Peynirli Mitre (Meatballs in Cheese, £4.50), the portion size was incredibly generous and the food tasty. So much so, we were so overfaced that we almost cancelled our main course order, the Lux Karisik Izgara (Charcoal Mixed Grill for two, £23.95).
was a huge letdown; a greasy, overcooked sprawling
mess of a plate with very small cuts of lamb
cutlets, chicken & lamb kebabs (photo).
Whilst served with fresh salad and fluffy
rice, it's hard to say anything positive about
started to wonder if the lady on the table
next to us, who was being attended to by paramedics
for some kind of breathing problem, had ordered
the same dish. Either way, we should have
seen the ambulance parked outside as a warning
sign and walked on by, choosing to visit a
different restaurant on this occassion.
Overall, based on this visit, we were incredibly disappointed as we had expected so much more of Topkapi Palace. In essence, it was little more than a cafe and the design of the restaurant with its onus on the takeaway side of their business, probably reflects where it stands on the pecking order of Manchester's restaurants." - restaurants of manchester 8/12/10 (visited on a wednesday lunchtime)